Developer tells Sunset Hills aldermen two major retail vacancies to be filled

Alderman queries developer on vacancies in Sunset Hills

By MIKE ANTHONY

A developer recently told the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen that two major retail vacancies in the city soon would be off the market.

Jim Sansone of the Sansone Group told the board that the recently closed Borders at 10990 Sunset Hills Plaza and the former CompUSA location at 3614 S. Lindbergh Blvd. will be filled with retail uses.

Sansone appeared before the board to inform aldermen of his company’s efforts in working with the Court Drive Residents Task Force, a group of Court Drive residents who have requested a change in the city’s comprehensive plan for the area devastated by the New Year’s Eve tornado.

Three public hearings — including one requested by the Court Drive Residents Task Force — involving the potential redevelopment of Court Drive and West Watson Road will be conducted Wednesday, Nov. 2, at the Community Center by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

Sansone, whose company has roughly a dozen or so properties in the tornado-damaged area under contract, said tentative plans call for some type of retail fronting Lindbergh Boulevard and a senior living center in the back of the area.

But at the Oct. 11 meeting, Ward 1 Alderman Frank Hardy questioned Sansone about his plans for the Court Drive area, noting that city officials periodically receive listings about vacant properties throughout the city.

“… There are a few listings from Sunset Hills that you control of commercial/retail property and they seem to be in there for quite a long time,” Hardy said. “If you can’t sell those storefronts, why are we creating new ones?”

Sansone replied, “Talk to me in specifics. Borders?”

Hardy said, “… I know about Borders books …”

Sansone said, “… What do you know about Borders? I’d be interested to know because what we know is confidential, but tell me because if you say it publicly, which I can’t, then you said it.”

Hardy said, “… You didn’t want to reveal your source of your information …”

Sansone said, “Well, I can’t because of a confidentiality agreement … Here’s the bottom line. You know that something’s going on with Borders and there is, and it’s going to be closing relatively soon.

“And the same thing goes for CompUSA and that’s the most I’m going to say. You know and I know, so that’s good. I’m not going to tell you who the uses are because I can’t. But I can tell you that in a very short period of time, Borders and Comp-USA are going to be off the market with retail uses and that’s the most I’m going to say …”

The Sunset Hills CompUSA location has been closed since 2007.

Of the former Borders location, Sansone later told the board, “… Let me tell you this. When we have a signed document … stating who is going there, you will be the first to know and then the amount of time that it takes them to retrofit, do whatever they need to do, then that’s something that they can talk to you all about … We’re very, very close to — very confident that in (a) short time period, both of those stores are committed to a retail use, both stores.”

Hardy asked, “Are there any other stores in Sunset Hills that you are going to fill shortly?”

Sansone said, “Name some that are not filled. We’ve got a 95-percent occupancy in 22 million square feet, and I mean that as confidently and respectfully as I can say. I can’t name every vacancy, but we have the highest occupancy of any developer … Do we an an opening here or there occasionally? I’m sure we do, but we generally fill all of our vacancies …”